Being Vegetarian/Vegan – A Challenge For The Traveller?

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Being vegetarian or vegan was once frowned upon, as a lifestyle choice. By far, the maximum number of vegetarians come from India and it was a huge challenge for us Indians to travel any place outside the country. Travel was the last thing, many people left their lucrative jobs abroad just because they could not cook or find ingredients for their typical meal or much often, miss their mumma’s food.

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A short story!

My dad belonged to the latter category – having got a well paying Post Doctoral Fellowship in Zurich, he could not stay very long because he was struggling with his food. With a “vegetarian” upbringing, he found it very difficult to eat the same old stuff over and over again. His mum, my grandma was a wonderful cook and he missed her cooking. This eventually led him to pack his bags and head back home. Well, there might have been other reasons to come back but this point is more relevant to this post.

As vegetarians, my family and I have chosen to include eggs in our diet, this gives us atleast some choice over the breakfast spread when we travel outside of our “home” territory. We would any day prefer the idli and dosa as breakfast but if we have to stay in places where breakfast is included in the pricing for the hotel room, we might as well have a good brunch.

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Idli Dosa!

Eating heavy breakfasts have also helped us save a bit on food during our travels (hehe). Our daughter is free to choose what she eats, but she somehow cannot think of killing an animal and eating it. She  thinks it is cruel – 5-year old’s wisdom for you!

I was quite astonished when I came across quite a few fellow travellers had converted to being vegetarian/vegan just out of choice. Much as I appreciate them for making that decision, I too hope to turn vegan some day ( I am just unable to give up on my daily cup of milk! – I am not a coffee drinker FYI)

In this post, you will get to read quotes from various travel bloggers that I met virtually, and shared a similar opinion as mine. You can also read a few tips and tricks/guides as to where you can find great vegetarian/vegan food across the world.

Let me start off with myself – Being an Indian, finding vegetarian or vegan food is not at all a problem in India. After India, Malaysia has been our second home in more ways than one. The similarity in culture and food habits have made it all the more possible to find vegetarian food easily anywhere in Malaysia. Penang is heaven when it comes to different food varieties. And if you tell the chef/waiter about what you wish to have in your food, they will certainly oblige and give it to you the way you want it.

Tip – Be sure to tell your waiter/chef to not add any kind of meat – only veggie (in malaysia) or if you can speak in tamil, just tell the waiter, Saivam! He will bring you vegetarian/vegan side dishes for your food 🙂 Here are a few quotes from fellow travel bloggers who have chosen the vegetarian/vegan path.

Cristal Dyer of tofutraveler

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 15 years and have never known travel without the challenge of finding meat-free meals on the road. The easiest country that I have traveled to was Mexico. Their staple diet is very vegetarian friendly as it includes things like tortillas, beans, rice, cheese and eggs. Mexico is one of the only places that I have been able to freely indulge in street food where tacos, quesadillas, tlayudas and tortas are often vegetarian or it’s easy to make a vegetarian option with some basic Spanish up your sleeve.

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Some Vegetarian Lasagna Image from Wikipedia By Luigis1234 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The only thing to be cautious of is to specify not just that you don’t eat meat (“carne” in Spanish), but also that you don’t eat chicken (pollo), pork (puerco) or fish (pescado). “Meat” in Spanish is usually just used for red meat so you need to be very clear or you could end up with something interesting on your plate!

Top tip: try a flor de calabaza quesadilla if you get the chance. It’s a typical Mexican dish made with squash blossoms that’s delicious and naturally vegetarian.

You can read this post on her blog, about travelling as a vegetarian and get inspired.

Tiffany of Nourished by Tiffany 

She wrote this piece on finding vegan food in Bali. When she told me that, I almost jumped. I had always heard and read about how difficult it was for a vegetarian, leave alone a vegan, to find suitable food in Indonesia. The Hindus in Bali ate meat, beef etc while the same was not necessarily true back home in India. Her post was really an eye-opener for me and now I can’t wait to go to Bali!!!

George of Traveladept.com

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Banana Leaf Meal By Augustus Binu, CC BY-SA 3.0

George is a converted vegetarian and after his recent visit to India, he tells me that India is a food haven for vegetarians. I cannot agree more!! I can keep talking on and on about the food, but I must stop hahaha. Read this post that gives travel tips to vegetarians, how you can stay true while travelling.

Dann Castillo from DreamPacker 

Being a Mexican vegetarian has always been a challenge for me. We have a strong red meat-based gastronomy, so I used to have a hard time whenever I ate outside home and I thought eating abroad will be no different. However, I had a surprise when I stayed in London for a season a couple of years ago. I found the city to be extremely vegetarian friendly. Most of the restaurants in the area offered meatless dishes and they catered to strict palates (lots of gluten free and vegan options as well).

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Vegan Wrap

Nonetheless, when I find myself in a not-so-veggie-friendly city (like several places in Mexico) I always find helpful to order only side dishes. Most restaurants offer soup, salads and vegetables plates to accompany the main dish. Thus they are a safe choice for us non-meat eaters. The waiters tend to judge you a bit, but, hey, they should have a more varied menu.

Ace Milanov of MyAmazingTravel.com

Ace wrote this post about Where you can find vegan food in Hawaii. He tells me that finding vegetarian food in Macedonia,where he lives, is not even a task. The below image will give you a glimpse of what you can expect to eat as a vegetarian in Macedonia.

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Some macedonian vegetarian fare.. Looks yummy no??

So, from this, I can only see more and more people adopting veganism/vegetarianism. I only hope people do not frown upon this food choice/lifestyle choice.

Are you a vegan/vegetarian? Do you have anything to share with regards to your experiences? Can you tell us where we can find amazing vegetarian/vegan food around the world? Let me know, I will be happy to add to this list!

 

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19 thoughts on “Being Vegetarian/Vegan – A Challenge For The Traveller?”

  1. I’m not vegan or vegetarian but I am allergic to fish and pork. I found this incredibly difficult whilst traveling in SE Asia because even vegetarian dishes contain fish oil or fish sauce. Luckily, I was able to learn how to say “If I eat pork or fish, I’ll die” (apparently translating the word allergy can be tricky) in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian which helped heaps throughout my travels!

    I find it interesting that Tiffany found vegan foods in Indonesia. I too found it quite easy to find vegetarian dishes throughout Bali.

    Stephanie
    Adventures in Aussieland

  2. This is a really interesting post. I have been vegetarian since I was aged 13 (nearly 30 years) and I have seen the offering for vegetarians in the UK increase steadily over that time, and in recent years it has improved dramatically. So I’m really glad Dann had a positive experience of being veggie in London.

  3. Definitely agree that being a vegetarian in India is easier than in many places – in fact, I’d go so far as to say that if I lived there I could well become a vegetarian! Other places – the Philippines, Eastern Europe – I have found it more difficult. I do admittedly enjoy meat a bit too much for my own good, but maybe one day I’ll be able to give it a go. Veganism I can’t imagine trying!

    1. It is tough to be a vegan I agree…. being an Indian it is difficult to avoid using silk haha. We love our clothes, our silks as well apart from the food!

  4. I am not a vegetarian as I love meat too muc (sorry) but I did travel with strict diet issues and I find this always a problem. Not so much the availabilty of food, but just the changed times, different habits and different needs for the body. I do love to explore a place by its foods

  5. Great post. I am not vegetarian or vegan but I often see how much of a problem such a diet would cause when travelling, sometimes waiters were really snobby when friends of mine asked for vegetarian options that did not include a Caesar salad. It really shouldn’t be like that. Thanks for the helpful links.

  6. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but I do like to eat healthy food and I don’t drink alcohol. I am so grateful that wherever I go, I can always find something that works for me and people/restaurants are usually pretty accommodating. I hope you find the same!

    1. true that… you have grown eating it so will seem a bit difficult to give up, same goes for vegetarians who want to turn vegan, milk products is one thing I cannot give up on 🙁

    1. many people across the world are similar – here in malaysia when we came 7 yrs back I had to tell them no fish no meat no chicken only veggie but they still wouldnt understand and add fish sauce or something 🙁

  7. Very interesting post. I am not vegan but try to eat healthy and often take the vegetarian option. Seems like it is easier to find some dishes. in some countries, it is I am sure more difficult than others.

    1. Totally agree… some people understand what a vegetarian or a vegan diet is but most do not and thus it is difficult to find food… hope things change

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